Scatterbrains, take note: Try these 5 science-backed ways to boost your memory
Clench your fists
Make fists during and after an important meeting (discreetly, of course) and you may come away with more details afterwards – but only if you made a fist with your right hand during the meeting and the left after it, that is.
According to a study by Montclair State University in the US, participants who clenched the fingers of their right hand into a fist prior to memorising a list of words and then the left during recollection performed the best. They were compared to groups who did not make fists at all or did so in a different sequence.
Researchers claim that making a fist activates specific brain regions that are associated with episodic memory formation. For instance, the right hand activates the brain’s left hemisphere for pre-encoding, which helps form a stronger memory of an event or action. The left activates the brain’s right hemisphere for pre-recall, which supports better recollection.
Scheduled get-togethers with friends and birthdays never seem to stick in your mental calendar? Try scenting your room with rosemary essential oil to remember events and tasks better, suggests a study by Northwestern University in the US.
Researchers found that participants who had a rosemary-scented room did a better job of passing a specified object to them at a set time without prompting than those who were in a room without it. They concluded that inhaling rosemary increases the concentrations of 1,8-cineole, a compound present in our blood, and acts on the body’s biochemical systems to boost the memory.
Eat the right stuff
Apparently, a weekly glass or two of champagne may tackle memory loss due to ageing and improve your working spatial memory, which is responsible for recording information about one’s environment and its spatial orientation to improve the sense of navigation.
According to a study published in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signalling, rats that consumed a human equivalent of 1.3 glasses of champagne per week for six weeks performed twice as well in a maze test than those that did not.
This was attributed to the high levels of phenolic compounds in champagne that were found to favourably alter proteins in the brain that otherwise deplete with age. But before you make another toast, remember that this was a lab test on rats, so we suggest you stick with berries, cherry tomatoes, oats, beans and green tea instead.
Move your eyes
Here’s a point that doesn’t get noted often enough: Moving your eyes from side to side causes the two hemispheres in the brain to interact more with one another, boosting the brain’s ability to retrieve memories.
A study involving college students in the journal Brain And Cognition found that participants were more accurate and fared better in a memory recall activity after performing sideways eye movements for 30 seconds.
“This suggests that horizontal eye movements could help people identify the true source of their memories,” says Dr Andrew Parker, a psychologist specialising in cognitive neuroscience at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK and the study’s lead author.
Do a sound check
Hate fumbling about the house for your car keys? Before this happens again, get someone to jingle them beside you while you’re in a deep sleep as it may ensure that you’ll have a better chance of remembering where you put them the next time they go missing.
In a Northwestern University study, subjects made to memorise images with matching noises and specific locations on a computer screen were better at placing them in the correct positions after listening to noise cues of the images during a nap.
Researchers concluded that hearing noises during deep sleep will strengthen the ability to remember the locations of objects and places learned during the day as it is an important time to process and consolidate memories. One more thing: In order for this exercise to work, you must be fully asleep and unable to remember hearing anything on waking up.